Like other contemporary cabaret performers Amber Lee is fearless in her incorporation of folk music into her songwriting. It gives her music depth and a warm texture that goes beyond the performance gloss some current cabaretists rely solely on. But this interest in pre-modern music forms only hints at what makes Amber Lee interesting.
See, while Amber Lee wields an accordion she could just as well be rolling out her tunes from behind a piano keyboard. Eccentric choice in instrument and snazzy costume choices aside, Amber Lee is talented singer-songwriter. *That* is what makes her new CD, "Indelible", a recording that rewards repeated listens. Her tunes are strong and her songwriting skills provide a variety of mood and style that make this a wonderfully textured collection.
The album opens with the cabaret march of the squeeze-box manifesto "Accordions are Leading the Show". "Waltzing by Just Holding Hands" is a rarity, a song that is sincerely sweet without becoming painfully sappy. "Alpha" is a tale of sexual politics that turns the whole "sex kitten" issue on it's head. Amber Lee's also not afraid to be playful and innocent, check out the child-like frolic of "The First Pancake Polka". But "Indelible" isn't all just marches, waltzes and polkas. "I Should Know Better" is wonderful slice of country-pop that could live happily on any roadhouse jukebox (and may be my favorite track on this CD).
Nestled in the middle of these is the number that's the hardest to listen to on this set: "Crocuses". This is a heart-wrenching song of death and loss with Amber Lee's soul laid bare. It's so strong that I can't always listen to it. Like "Megan Rose" by HUMANWINE, "Crocuses" can too much for a "casual" listen. The song asks too much of my heart and I'm not always able to give it.